Crowe MacKay Yellowknife Leaders Recognized for Their Service

News Story
| 7/18/2022
Crowe MacKay’s Northern leaders are recognized for their excellence in serving their clients, colleagues, and community across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Gillian Lee, Managing Director of the firm’s Yellowknife office, and Zakar Hovhannisyan, Senior Manager, received the honour of Fellowship, granting them their FCPA, the highest distinction a CPA can achieve. Fred Deschenes, Yellowknife Partner, is awarded the Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his dedication, commitment, and outstanding service to the profession, social causes, and charitable organizations.
Stefan Ferris
These awards are a recognition of the great efforts our colleagues make to service the profession. Through their consistent demonstration of care to their clients, colleagues, and community, these three leaders have truly made the North a better place.
Stefan Ferris
Stefan Ferris
Chief Executive Officer
Crowe MacKay LLP
Gillian at Crowe MacKay Yellowknife's 2016 Christmas Party
Gillian’s journey in accounting is remarkable, impacting not only her career but the careers of others. Starting as a student at Crowe in 2003, Gillian is nothing short of creating her legacy in the firm and profession. At the age of 28, Gillian was admitted as an equity partner, becoming the youngest professional ever to join the Crowe MacKay partnership. She is the first female to become a Managing Director in any of Crowe’s eight offices. Since 2006, Gillian has played a leading role in recruitment, attracting dozens of new accountants to live and work in Yellowknife. 
Gillian Lee - A Trailblazer and Remarkable Mentor 

Gillian is dedicated to developing CPAs in the North and has a passion for seeing students succeed. Her main goal is to empower students to have confidence in themselves, “ I see our students get anxious about their studies, but they have some of the best experience I’ve seen, which provides them with a real advantage.” From developing skills, leading Crowe MacKay’s internal training, helping create an internal study program for the CFE, and working with students in the firm’s internal mentorship program, she has made an impact on aspiring accounting professionals. Gillian is also a CPA mentor for the CPA’s Western School of Business. Joel McConnell, current Manger in Yellowknife and a past mentee of Gillian’s, shares that “while working towards my CPA designation, [Gillian] provided great assistance in helping me navigate the system. She continues to offer excellent advice and guidance on how to provide exceptional service to our clientele.” Gillian provides a quality experience and support to students through their studies which is reflected in Crowe’s strong CFE pass rate and candidate success.

Gillian is not only a leader within the firm but in the community as well. She is an inspiration for other women in the profession. Female articling students speak highly of her leadership in a profession historically dominated by men. In 2020, Gillian was recognized by the City of Yellowknife, receiving the Trailblazer: Women in Leadership Award and CPA’s Distinguished Service Award.

Gillian’s ability to communicate complex tax issues in a digestible manner and foresee potential issues has led her to become a trusted advisor to her clients. She continuously goes above and beyond to ensure her clients see success in their business. In 2016, Gillian completed CPA Canada’s three year In-Depth Tax course. Gillian is among the few northerners who have completed this rigorous program, a testament to her commitment to offer clients smart decisions that provide lasting value.

What’s the recipe for a successful career? “Working with clients, colleagues, or the boards I’ve been involved with has been very fulfilling. When you enjoy what you do, it is easy to stay engaged and keep growing as a professional,” says Gillian. Hearing from her clients their appreciation for the work and advice she provides is “the ultimate compliment” and fuels her passion to continue serving her community as their trusted advisor.

“It’s an honour to be recognized with the FCPA award,” says Gillian, “I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to be impactful enough on others that they consider me deserving.”

Zakar Yellowknife Team Bonding Event
Zakar (second left) at Crowe MacKay Yellowknife's Team Event

Zakar is highly experienced in driving efficiency and productivity and is one of Crowe MacKay’s talented leaders in working with clients’ financial teams to support their corporate goals and objectives. He is highly engaged with his clients, assisting them in their overall business performance. “I care about developing client relationships that are built on trust,” Zakar shares, “I want to see their business succeed and am motivated to help improve efficiencies in, not only their accounting department, but their business overall.” Zakar cares immensely about the growth of his clients' businesses and works hard to ensure they see lasting value from his services.

Zakar Hovhannisyan – A Leader in Efficiency and Productivity

Zakar’s career spans into both public practice and industry. Starting his accounting career with Crowe MacKay in 2006, Zakar’s passion for learning propelled him to become a expert in his field and an exceptional leader, and he eventually departed to work in industry where he stayed for a decade serving as a Controller and eventually the Chief Financial Officer for one of the most active Indigenous organizations in the North.

In 2020, Zakar rejoined the Crowe Yellowknife team, where he quickly earned the trust of both junior staff and Partners. He is engaged in mentoring young professionals working towards their CPA designation, teaching them how to be more efficient in performing tasks and understanding accounting concepts, and the importance of teamwork as they “all fail or succeed together,” Zakar shares.

Outside of the office, Zakar is an active member in the community sitting on the CPA Board and many of its committees. He is the Chair of the By-Law Committee and the Education and Professional Development Committee, and is also a member of the Finance Committee.

Through his career, his friendship with his colleagues have inspired him, along with the support of his wife. “Knowing that I have a support system has always given me the strength and courage to be ethical and professional,” says Zakar, “which has led to the respect and trust I have earned today.” He shares his gratitude for current and past colleagues John Laratta, Gillian Lee, Matthew Horton, Andy Wong, Katherine MacDonald, and Cathy Cudmore, amongst others for shaping him into the leader he is today.

Winning the FCPA award is a great acknowledgement from his colleagues, “I feel more confident and motivated to provide support to younger generation in achieving their personal goals,” Zakar shares.

Fred Old Timers Hockey Champions
Fred with the 2022 Balsillie Cup after winning in the C-Division
Crowe MacKay’s Yellowknife office has seen significant success training new CPAs in the North and Fred is an instrumental leader in this. Since joining Crowe MacKay in 2010, he has helped countless students develop their skills to achieve their CPA. “I’ve always been motivated to see the progress from when articling students are starting out to when they get their letters,” Fred shares. He has been a key leader in the firm’s internal training program, one of the 10 reasons students go Crowe, and is quick to help create content and present at training sessions for staff. His impact goes beyond the firm, with many of the students maturing in their careers and becoming leaders in various industries.
Fred Deschenes – Committed to Providing Lasting Value to his Community

Fred is an active volunteer in the community and is passionate about working with the NWT Francophone community. He is the President of CDÉTNO, which partners with governments at all levels and connects hundreds of members from the NWT business community with services in French. He is also the Vice President of the Association Franco Culturelle de Yellowknife (AFCY) and active with the Yellowknife Old Timers Hockey Association, acting as Treasurer, Fundraising Chair, and team representative. Fred also sits on the ethics committee for CPA NWT/NU. When asked what drives him to be so active in the community, his answer is simple, “I owe it to the community.”

Fred is motivated by the joy he receives in work and life; it is what he considers the foundation of his success. To him, the countless hours he spends giving back to the community is a reward in and of its self.

“It’s an honour to be recognized by my colleagues and the community for my dedication. Winning the Distinguished Service Award is a great acknowledgement,” says Fred.

About Crowe MacKay LLP

Serving northern and western Canada for over 50 years, Crowe MacKay LLP is one of the leading accounting and advisory firms in the country. With a team of 400 across eight offices, we are a vibrant team of trusted advisors. We believe strong relationships are the cornerstone to success and strive to create innovative solutions for our clients in both private and public sectors. We have a passion for quality in the services we deliver to our community and clients from a wide range of industries. A firm focused on people first, Crowe MacKay’s corporate culture is built on maximizing potential for clients and staff. Our belief is that we are truly our best when we invest in our people and communities. Committed to showing we care about the people we serve through our work and actions, we strive to make a difference in the regions we serve.

About Crowe Global

One of the top 10 accounting networks in the world, Crowe Global has over 200 independent accounting and advisory firms in more than 145 countries. For over 100 years, Crowe has made smart decisions for multinational clients working across borders. Our leaders work with governments, regulatory bodies, and industry groups to shape the future of the profession worldwide. Their exceptional knowledge of business, local laws, and customs provide lasting value to clients undertaking international projects. At Crowe, the professionals all share one commitment, to deliver excellence.